Personal vehicles and transit often get the most attention in terms of reducing emissions and our carbon footprint. Meanwhile a lot is happening in the freight industry – ports, railroads and trucking all are taking actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Of course the federal government is imposing stricter emissions regulations and higher fuel efficiency, but the trucking industry is going beyond that to find additional tools.
To catch us up, we asked Jennifer Masters of Blue-Grace Logistics to give us a peek into the variety of tools the trucking industry is using to shrink its carbon footprint and reduce waste on both ends of the supply chain. Founded in 2007, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing and most progressive providers of transportation, logistics and technology solutions to businesses and individuals nationwide, serving more than 2,500 customers in 60 cities. BlueGrace offers complete, customized transportation management solutions to customers throughout the United States. Based in Riverview, Florida with satellite offices in Salt Lake City and Chicago, the company has increased sales by more than 400 percent since 2009.
One Truck at a Time: Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Transportation
by Jennifer D. Masters, Business Information Analyst, Blue-Grace Logistics LLC
People say the driving force behind the nation’s economy is the trucking industry. That’s a logical rationale considering nine million people help transport eleven billion tons of freight annually. In regard to these figures, the question should be asked not only what the freight and shipping industry can do for you, but what can transportation do for the planet?
Sustainability efforts do not come in a one-size-fits-all box. Here are a variety of best practices the trucking industry is using to shrink their carbon footprint and reduce waste on either end of the supply chain.
- Motion sensors: Only illuminate areas when a truck or other vehicle is actually present at the pickup point.
- Solar panels: Utilize natural energy and light from the sun, thus reducing energy consumption, or… add a skylight!
- Packaging materials: Biodegradable packing peanuts made from renewable resources are a great aid in the quest for sustainability. Companies such as StarchTech, produce packaging alternatives that dissolve in water after use.
- Pallet-sharing programs: Thousands of pallet recyclers buy/sell pallets to create a comprehensive retrieval network. If a pallet cannot be reused for shipments, grind it down to reuse as mulch, animal bedding, or wood-stove pellets.
- Speed Reduction: The easiest (and safest!) step to take. Reducing your speed from 75 to 65 saves up to 27% of fuel and reduces carbon emissions by approximately 31.5 million tons!
- Idling time: If you’re on a long haul that requires overnight rest, take advantage of truck auxiliary units or truck stop electrification systems to heat or cool your truck instead of wasting diesel while in idle.
- Accessories and Equipment: Low viscosity lubricants can be used to reduce friction. Monitoring tire pressure regularly is also an efficient step towards fuel-economy.
- Aerodynamic/engine modifications: Install aerodynamic panels on trailers and replace older engines with new, environmentally friendly engines.
- Alternative fuel: Biomethane gas emits 50% less carbon than current diesel standard and is derived from organic matter in landfill sites. Coca-Cola Enterprises was the 1st in the logistics sector to invest in biomethane trucks.
- Collaborative distribution: Merge different loads destined for the same end point to maximize trucking efficiency.
It’s easy to take a pro-active hold on the planet’s future. It’s not necessary to start with a revolution in mind. Instead, take small steps toward a monumental change—it is the best way to ensure success. By making small improvements (just begin with one thing off this list) and reaching for the lowest hanging fruit in terms of “going green”, risk to all parties involved is reduced and we’re one step closer to a healthier planet.